drop another dime in the jukebox

So, not so long ago I worked with a couple of krazy kats named Brandon and Prince on a little ditty they liked to call Jukebox Stories. They had a VERY succesful run in the basement of a little pizza joint called La Vals for Impact Theatre. Now I have done several shows in that basement space... for Impact and others, but this one was differant. Why you ask? Because this one belonged in the basement of a pizza joint. And I mean that as a compliment.

Appearantly, many other people thought so too. The fun, improvisational hijinks of Prince's stories paired with the ever-so-cute Brandon's songs... along with a good game of BINGO (and who doesn't love BINGO) created one of the more fun and differant evenings of theater I've been a proud papa too.

Well, guess what? THEY'RE BACK!!!! That's right... if you missed 'em the first time, check em out this time. Seems that one of their shows is already sold out... but catch the other if you can. Info is here.

And tell 'em The Monkey sent ya.


A good article in the Chronicle

All right all right... so I'm quoted in it, but still... the whole series, written by Steven Winn was a pretty interesting exploration of the creative process and the role of the unconscious in the artists life. It's funny... He interviewed me a year ago for the thing. Imagine my surprise when, as I am sipping my morning coffee, I come across my name. I had totally forgotten about it. The only problem is he doesn't mention crowded fire. Still, if you are interested here's the link:


And here's part two. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/05/29/DDG81Q1THL1.DTL

But I'm not in that one.


Playwright Lisa D'Amour comes to town

Anna Bella Eema playwright, Lisa D'Amour, is in town this coming week for part of our rehearsal process.

Do you know Lisa's work? If you like rich language, intricate storytelling, and innovative structure then she's a playwright fit for you. Now's your chance to meet her and view a piece of her work FOR FREE!

Lisa's work has never been produced in San Francisco and has rarely been produced on the West Coast, but people across the country are talking about her unique voice and style. We're excited for this opportunity to introduce her to the Bay Area Theater Community.

So come on out to the Magic (Northside Theatre) this Thursday, May 24th. We'll kick things off with cocktails at 7:00 pm followed by a sneak peak of Anna Bella Eema at 7:30 pm. We'll round of the evening with a little chatty chat between Lisa, Kent, and you!

It's sure to be a fun night - come check it out!

RSVP to Cassie by May 23rd


We love new playwrights

And we love our new co-artistic director who just happens to be directing an upcoming reading for IN THE ROUGH: the Playwright Foundation's first glimpse reading series of works by stellar emerging playwrights.

So check out :


By Peter Nachtrieb
Directed by Kent Nicholson

Tuesday, May 22nd; 7pm at TJT


Pain in my...

The theatre gods were out to get me at last night's rehearsal. I'm not sure what I did to piss them off, but the set and props attacked me. I bled twice.

In my last blog I explained how freeing restrictions can be in acting work. I enthusiastically described the odd joy of rehearsing a play in which we aren't permitted to leave our seats. I still fundamentally agree with my earlier assessment. However...

I now have a wooden plank embedded in my fleshy bum thanks to a fore mentioned chair. It's a real pain in my @&*!

I was lightly tapping on a drinking glass with a spatula for percussive effect during a run thru of the first scene when it suddenly shattered. A shard hit my bare foot, and I bled. But, I'm tough. No biggie.

About 5 minutes later, I shifted quickly in my seat to swing my legs to the side of my beloved chair, and I leaped up screaming "OW!" as a hefty sized piece of wood penetrated through my skirt and into my, well, you know. How many times do I have to say it? I had to lay on the floor, and let Julie take a look ...completely embarrassing.

As of this morning, there is still a little piece of the set wedged so far up under the skin, my fiance couldn't get to it with tweezers and a warm wash cloth. We tried. No luck.
I have to soak in a bath and hope the thing works it's way out eventually.

I can hear the gods laughing at my swollen behind.


Anna Bella can you hear me?

process process process! Ya want the inside scoop on how ABE's rehearsal process is going? We sit on our butts all day long!

Let me start by saying that Lisa D'Amour's ANNA BELLA EEMA is a haunting piece of story telling. 3 actors never leave the stage, or their chairs.

There is some visual oomph!, but the real theatre magic happens in the imagination. Because we are restricted to our seats, we have to rely on our voices to do the work. We get some help from the haunting score and also from the sound scape we are creating with our props which double as instruments. The gorgeous language and active listening is all that's needed to take this ride. But getting there is challenging.

It's odd sometimes how restrictions in work can actually set a performer free. Because this piece is designed to be heard, Rebecca, Julie, Danielle and I are always trying to strike the balance between really "hearing" the play and "seeing" the play. So, our listening is improving. That silent connection between the 3 performers is getting stronger as we move forward. We're becoming a 3 headed unit telling a fantastic tale with our voices, bodies, and props.

Normally, a rehearsal process would start with reading through the script, maybe working for a day or two on just the text, then getting up on our feet to start on blocking and character physicalizations. I always go into a rehearsal interested in finding how my character walks, what my character's internal tempo is, and how my character sounds.

With Anna Bella Eema, we worked at the table for the first week...trying to just listen. We had whole conversations about rhythm and underscoring. We went through the piece marking up our scripts with a soundscape, not blocking. We read aloud and asked ourselves not what we "saw" but what we "heard". How can we best accentuate Lisa's story through sound?

Our sound guru, Cliff, is contributing to the table work tremendously! He and our props master, Kathleen, have assembled this huge sound playground of odd objects that make noise. Each actor has a little tray table full of funny sound makers that we use as instruments. Because we can't get up out of the chairs, our focus is shifting to making the most vivid piece of theatre without having to show the audience anything. How can we make you think you SAW something, when really you only heard it?

It's a delicious challenge. Right now we have assembled a rehearsal set of 3 chairs and 3 trays. We are still playing with our sound props, discovering which object sounds the most "creepy", "disturbing", "sweet". We're learning the dissonant, haunting score, and getting closer and closer each day to singing the harmonies acapella.

It's an awesome challenge for our ears...and out butts.

More soon.



Going Paperless

We are pleased as punch with our new website look and all that goes with it. A million and one thanks go to Julie Baum, Board member extraordinaire and kick ass designer!

We're also pretty excited about our foray into cyber-land over-all. Did you get your issue of BURN THIS NEWSLETTER this month? If not, you just gotta sign up on our email list. We're going paperless - saving trees and cash - so the ONLY way you're going to hear from us going forward is by email. You don't want to miss out on the gossip and intrigue, do you?

First Person Shooter

One of Crowded Fire's founding ensemble members, Melpomene Katakalos, is strutting her design stuff over at SF Playhouse this month with her set design of First Person Shooter by Aaron Loeb. You may remember Aaron's piece Brown which CF presented a few years back in a Matchbox series.

Here's what Monsieur
Hurwitt had to say about Mellie's set:
Tracy and his strong cast vividly bring it to life on a striking, video-upholstered office set by Melpomene Katakalos that projects into the first rows of seats.
Way to go Mellie!

Also, look for Mellie's set design in our upcoming production of Anna Bella Eema. Cuz, you know, she rocks.